If you’re a homeowner, you probably look at your roof every day. Yet when it comes time to replace the shingles on top of your house, the process seems mysterious.
Unless you’re a construction veteran, you may be unsure of how to check for a reputable roofer and which questions to ask a contractor about his or her practices. Below are a handful of topics to discuss to help you make an informed decision when hiring a contractor
1. Are you licensed and insured?
Unless you’re a contractor, you probably don’t know that in over 20 states you don’t need to have a roofer’s license to install roofing. In some states, just having a business license will suffice. In other places, you can’t get the proper permits for the construction without the right license. Needless to say, you want your contractor to be licensed so they understand how to do work according to local code. Without that knowledge, a new roof may not pass inspection. Then you’re going to have have it installed twice.
You also want to make sure the company is insured (and put it in writing). If they don’t have workers comp insurance, you may wind up being liable for an accident that occurs on your property. Also keep in mind that roofers often subcontract their jobs. If the the roofer is subcontracting or has trade partners, be sure to ask if the people doing the work are licensed and insured. If they’re not, the job may end with a lot of finger pointing.
2. When do you guarantee the job will be finished?
If you’ve ever had any contractors work on your house, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Don’t worry, we’ll get it done.” Really don’t want to worry? Have the contractor put in writing how many days will be required for removing the old roof, installing the new one and hauling away the debris.
Installing an asphalt roof of 1,500 to 2,000 square feet should take no longer than 2-3 days, says the YouTube Channel Roofing Made Easy. Of course there are reasons why that estimate might change. Metal and slate roofing can double the installation time needed. A roof with a steep pitch may slow down the workers. You should understand the details of the job and have them in writing.
Don’t forget to discuss seemingly small details like how long the materials will be sitting on your property before being used and how many days it will take for the garbage to be hauled away. A professional will also include contingencies in case of bad weather. The more details you can get in writing, the better.
3. What’s your roofing experience?
Ask about the company's roofing experience. In particular, do they have experience with your type of roof? Make sure to get specific details so that you can be confident you're choosing a highly rated roofing company for the project. For example, you can ask how many projects they typically complete in a year and what kinds of roofs they have the most experience with. Once you have this information, you can decide if the company is a good fit for your needs.
4. What are the warranties?
When it comes to roofing installation, two different warranties are particularly important: materials and labor. The more research you do about the roofing materials, the better you’ll understand the associated warranties. Many companies promise a 30 year or even lifetime warranty on their roofing products, but sometimes the warranty isn’t transferable. So, if you sell the house, the new homeowner may not have any guarantee on the materials over his or her head.
Even lifetime warranties tend to pro-rate over the years, so don’t expect to get a completely new roof after 20 years into a 30 year warranty.
Labor warranties are typically much shorter. A one-year warranty on the labor is fairly common. It’s possible to get a two to five year warranty and that may be worth bargaining for. In addition, you also want to know what happens if the roof installation doesn’t pass inspection or if something fails.
Before you sign an agreement, you’ll want to know the protocol in case the construction team needs to return for repairs. If the team isn’t local, it may slow down any potential repairs getting done — something to consider when you’re searching for team to work on your home.
5. Can I have an Itemized Quote?
Be sure to get a detailed quote. This quote should include all of the materials, labor, and other costs associated with the project. Once you have the quote, be sure to ask about any discounts or promotions that the company may be running. If you have time, you should also shop for the roofing materials yourself. You may even be able to save money by buying them yourself. This will also help you to understand the cost differences and make an informed decision.
Before you make your final decision, be sure to compare several companies. This will help you to find the best roofing company for your needs.